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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY              315

really promotes liberty and equality. Why must society educate
its members ? For three reasons, he says. In the first place,
there is a certain minimum of knowledge which every citizen must
possess if he is to be able to discharge his duties to himself and his
fellows, and not to be slavishly dependent on those who happen
to know more than himself. Equality of opportunity in this
respect is the true equality. In the second place, education is
needed to develop the diverse gifts of the citizens, and to ensure
that each of them is making his fullest contribution to the well-
being which all equally share. In the third place, the perfectibility
of mankind depends on education. The advance due to revolu-
tionary changes can only be maintained and extended if no section
of the people is allowed to fall behind the rest for lack of the
requisite instruction. Admitting all this, everything turns on the
State giving the right education; and here Condorcet has an
important distinction to make. " Education, if taken in its whole
extent, is not limited to positive instruction, to the teaching of
truths of fact and number, but includes all opinions, political,
moral or religious."* The State has no concern with education in
this wide sense. It is only positive instruction that it can be
allowed to give : any intrusion into the sphere of opinion would
be a negation of liberty. In matters of politics, morals, or religion,
no public authority has any right to interfere with the parent in
the upbringing of his children, or with the thinker in the search
for truth.

The restriction of the State to the imparting of positive know-
ledge affects his whole scheme. He proposes that there should
be five distinct institutions concerned with learning : (a) Primary
schools—of which he calculates that 31,000 will be required—
to be spread over the whole country, where children from six to
ten will learn reading, writing, spelling, morality, and elementary
notions of agriculture or commerce, as the case may be. (6)
Secondary schools in all towns with 4,000 inhabitants and upwards,
where the older children will learn the grammar needed for correct
speech and writing, the history and geography of France, the
elements of mathematics, physics, and natural history relative to
the arts, agriculture and commerce, and the foreign language
most useful for the district, (c) Institutes to the number of 110,
with courses in mathematics and physics, the moral and political

* P. 47-